Uzbek thing: what happens to a country after the death of Islam Karimov

After 27 years of unchallenged power

Elections in Uzbekistan are ahead of schedule due to the death of Islam Karimov, who passed away suddenly in early September and ruled Uzbekistan since 1989.

For the post of head of the Republic claimed four candidates, and the undisputed favourite is the acting President Shavkat Mirziyoev. He was nominated by the same political party that previously supported Karimov, the centrist Movement of entrepreneurs and businessmen — liberal democratic party of Uzbekistan, which owns a third of the seats in Parliament.

Competition Mirzaeva are Hatamian Meetings from the people’s democratic party, and Nariman Umarov from the social Democrats and Sarwar of Atamuratov from the democratic party. He participates in the elections for the first time. Meetings and Umarov won the presidential election in 2015, less than 3% of the vote. The Result Karimova — Of 90.3%.

Mirziyoev this weekend to get rid of the letters I. O., experts believe Arkady Dubnov and Azhdar Kurtov.

“Two of the three formal rivals Mirziyoyev parties last season. But this time they put forward in their programs much more daring slogans than a year ago, boldly stating what needs to be done, which indicates the kind of liberalization. Uzbek segment of social networking in General is a raging freedom of speech, that it was hard to imagine even last spring,” — says in a conversation with an Uzbek journalist Alexei Volosevich.

Changes in the rhetoric of the authorities, as well as changes in domestic and foreign policy of the country was noticed and interviewed experts. But not all of the promised will be fulfilled, and part of innovation is emasculated, they said.

Old friends in new roles

Mirziyoev, who has been the acting President from September 8, began with personnel changes in the government and in the regions.

However, he left not only the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Rustam Asimov, who was his main rival in the struggle for power, but also have expanded authority to oversee education and science. Then Mirziyoev returned to power first exiled from it. Deputy Prime Minister on youth policy and culture Abdulla Aripov. He already held this position from 2002 to 2012, but disappeared from view after the Prosecutor General opened a criminal case on him in connection with the Russian company MTS, reminds portal Eurasianet. And Rustam Kasymov was appointed Minister of higher and secondary education, a position he held from 2004 to 2008.

The replacement of regional human resources Mirziyoev started with Jizzakh region, where he was born and the Governor which was in the late 1990-ies. He fired the mayor of Jizzakh and several security officials. Personnel changes expect a number of other regions and Tashkent.

Overtures in his direction were the civil society and business. In October an Amnesty was declared on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Constitution. From prison came 72-year-old Samandar Kukanov, which the US and the EU as a political prisoner and who was imprisoned for 23 years, recalls the “IA”.

It has become easier to get permission to stay in the capital, according to the portal Eurasianet.

In October Mirziyoev ordered to establish in the Parliament a Commissioner for the protection of the rights of entrepreneurs. It was also announced about the reduction of the financial burden for farmers that export their goods abroad — they were allowed to sell to the state only 25% of foreign exchange earnings instead of 50%, informs “Radio Freedom”.

In addition, acting President ordered the heads of departments daily from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to conduct a personal reception of citizens and entrepreneurs. It has become easier to get permission to stay in the capital, according to the portal Eurasianet.

Obviously among the other populist decisions Mirziyoev — avoiding the use of the luxurious presidential residence the OK-Sarai (“White Palace”). There will be a Museum of Islam Karimov.

Waiting for serious changes

Mirziyoyev, call a member of the Jizak clan, but he was close to Samarkand, to which he belonged Karimov, according to a study by the International Institute of political expertise.

To say that Mirzaeva initiated by personnel changes was motivated by the desire to oust some kind of clan or promote the power of the other premature, says Azhdar Kurtov from the Russian Institute for strategic studies. He recalled that Mirziyoev has long directed the Samarkand area, so fundamentally change the balance in power is no reason, especially during the transition period, he said.

Uzbek political scientist Andrey Saidov notes that for public sector employees, pensioners, rural residents with the arrival of Mirziyoyev, nothing has changed. “The most that they noticed is a momentary opportunity to solve your small home or personal problems through a virtual reception Mirziyoyev. Someone a lift in his nine jewels to fix, someone retire just brought, someone was rescued from harassment by petty authorities,” — said Saidov.

Virtual reception premiere opened on the government portal on September 25. As of 1 December, it had received more than 228 thousand hits, 148 thousand considered. Opening reception looks really revolutionary by today’s measure, in some cases effective, but there is growing complaints that it turns into a place where showered denunciations of those wishing to settle scores with neighbors, colleagues, chiefs, says Dubnov.

Most of the Uzbeks life is not changed. As they were taken in previous years to pick cotton until the first snow, took out this year, as detained the bulk of salaries and pensions and hold, continue turn off gas and light in the regions lists Saidov.

For change, he said, hopes the middle class, educated youth, businessmen, intellectuals. “They convince themselves and others that changes will be carefully noticing the slightest improvement in any area, treating any instances of General positive as the coming trend,” — said the expert.

What is happening in Uzbekistan is not yet a thaw, but its promise, says Arkady Dubnov.

To the neighbors with the world

Mirziyoev met with Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev and they talked about the General development of Russian-Uzbek cooperation. However, while nothing is said about the rapprochement between Uzbekistan and the Eurasian economic Union or join the CSTO.

Yet the most noticeable change in the foreign policy of Tashkent — the warming of relations with the closest neighbors in the region, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, says Dubnov. Relations with Tajikistan was “badly” due to personal and historical reasons, the expert explains. Islam Karimov helped Emomali Rahmon to become President of Tajikistan and to end the civil war in the country. However, later their relationship soured.

Three days before the elections, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed an agreement on the resumption of flights, which were suspended in 1992. It was also announced that the possibility of resumption of rail communication between the two countries.

About change is the fact that Tashkent reacted calmly to the start of construction of the Rogun hydropower plant in Tajikistan, Dubnov indicates, although the use of water resources is one of the most problematic issues in relations between the two countries. However, that could all change after the elections, the expert continues.

The real relation will become clear later, I’m sure Kurts. All these gestures may not be the intention to radically change relations in the region, he warns.

In the circle of doubt

Despite the last Amnesty, in conclusion remains Muhammad Bekjon, brother living in exile, the leader of the opposition “Erk” party Muhammad Solih. Human Rughts Watch claims that for political reasons are behind bars in Uzbekistan are still thousands of people.

Travel abroad is also fraught with difficulties. According to “IA”, Tashkent kinodokumentalista and photographer Umida Akhmedova is still not received compulsory for all citizens at the check-out permission, although filed in September, and to consider his law to 15 days.

However, according to Uzbek journalist Alexei Volosevich, “breathe in the country, though not much, but still became freer; left senseless Karimov’s paranoia, although the regime of course remains the same”.

Human rights activists say that in the field of civil rights and liberties after the death of Karimov, there was no significant change. Moreover, they have concerns that when Mirziyoev is elected President, he will quickly pass the crackdown and repression.

Heavy legacy

A delicate but important issue which has got Mirzaeva inherited from the first President of Uzbekistan, — the fate of Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Islam Karimov.

Until 2013 she regularly appeared in public, was Ambassador, has been active in the secular way of life. Subsequent disappearance Karimova of public space many associate with the beginning of the international investigation. According to the American law enforcement authorities, as already mentioned, it may be the mysterious representative of the Uzbek elite, which the company MTS and VimpelCom through shell companies paid a lot of money for access to the telecommunication market of the country.

Last week appeared information about the death of Karimova. Portal “Center-1” citing an unnamed source in the national security Service of Uzbekistan said that 44-year-old Gulnara was poisoned and died 5 Nov. However, her son Islam, who lives in London, denied this in a BBC interview. He claims that his mother is alive, but is still under house arrest, and his sister Iman Karimova under house arrest released, but she is not allowed to leave the country.

Gulnara did not attend the funeral of his father; Mirziyoev in his speech in Parliament on 8 September (and others too) haven’t mentioned her among those whom he brings condolences in connection with death of Islam Karimov, directing them to the widow and the youngest daughter Lola.

However Mirzaeva somehow have to deal with this issue, because it is necessary to negotiate about the fate of those arrested abroad $850 million, says Arkady Dubnov.